3d printed meat

3D Printed Steaks? Discussing a New Way of Meat Production

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Global warming is a serious issue of this generation. It is no longer safe to keep ignoring the problem, and we must find ways to reduce the damage to our environment. The leading cause of global warming is CO2 emissions. These gases cause the greenhouse effect and play a significant role in annual temperature rise. The global meat industry is a significant source of carbon emissions today.

Meat does not do justice to the amount of energy and resources that go into preparing it. Besides, Animal brutality is another factor in play against the slaughter of animals to provide meat.

Consequently, the researchers are now looking to find meat alternatives that taste the same but do not cause similar damage to the environment. Fake meats have become popular with this generation. There are companies out there that provide ground beef substitutes with similar tastes and textures to original beef.

Whole cuts are a different league, no substitutes for them are available currently in the market. The main drawback of using alternative meats is the lack of variety. Research is now towards replicating one of the most enjoyed pieces of meat, The Steak, using 3d printing technology.

A steak is a work of art when it comes to meat. Unlike any other piece of meat, it has layers and fibers of the muscle that give it the iconic texture and taste. 3D printing technology is perfect for this task. A 3D printer works by extruding material on the base surface and making layers again and again to make an object.

3D Printing Meat
(Source: mimeo.com)

We can use any material for 3D printing as long as it holds up. Producing a steak with this technology will require individually printing each fiber of the meat to achieve the texture and layers that are present in actual Steak. This method, however, is quite tedious and time-consuming, and it will take time to mature.

There are two main paths to take when developing a complete meat solution like this. One is a plant-based product, and the other is lab-made animal cells. The plant-based meat will be a healthier and more suitable option for people opting for a vegan diet. However, The one made using animal cells will have better taste and a closer resemblance to the real deal.

Plant Origin Meat:

NovaMeat is a company that is following the plant-based approach. The process uses a technique called “Micro Extrusion,”. What this means, according to Giuseppe Scionti, CEO of NovaMeat is that this process enables them to make “microscopic fibers which replicate the tissues of the actual muscle of the animals. “This concept is already in use when researching for regenerating animal organs.

Taste, Texture, Appearance, and Nutrition are the essential qualities of a good steak. The main concern for someone opting for plant-based meat will be the difference in taste.  Scionti, however, says that the company is more focused on developing the right texture and appearance of their product.

Taste is something that can be added to the product later on. What matters to them is that this Steak looks like the original one. Their latest design, Steak 2.0, combines an advanced coloring scheme with an exquisite fiber texture, which makes it an astonishingly good replica.

 

A critical factor with these new meat ventures is scalability. Many great ideas fail due to no proper scalability. Therefore, the next step for NovaMeat is working on scaling up its production. They want to achieve production with larger machines and license companies that will increase production numbers for the next year. There are also plans to provide famous chefs with a printer in their kitchen that produces plat based Steak of their choice.

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The main ingredient for plant-based alternatives is protein from plants. The most common raw material is soy and wheat gluten. NovaMeat wants to change its components with every region.

Scionti calls 2020 a year of biodiversity and says that “We have already demonstrated that we don’t use soy or wheat gluten, but we can use a variety of proteins: Peas, rice, hemp, etc. But I really would like to collaborate with other companies that are working in other countries where they add ingredients from their own countries.”

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The plant-based methods adopted by Scionti’s company is a good option for countries and individuals looking to step into this new world. This way is comparatively easier than cell growth because it does not require any labs and sterile conditions.

The Cell Growth Method:

In this method, scientists harvest the stem cells from a host animal put them in a medium to grow into tissues. This method involves less harm to animals and produces far better results in terms of similarity in taste and texture. An Israeli company called MeaTech is currently working on cultured cell technology. This company aims to combine cultured cells and 3D printing to produce the ultimate Steak.

The stem cells used for the process are harvested from umbilical cords of cows; they are developed inside bioreactors snd then separated into cellular inks. These inks serve as necessary ingredients when printing the Steak and form different textures like muscle and fat.

lab grown meat
( Source: sciencenewsforstudents.org)

Although this method produces promising results, it is not likely that we’ll see a steak developed like this in our stores anytime soon. In a study, Sghaier Chriki and Jean-Francoise Hocquette talk about the myths and the facts related to this advancement.

The researchers said that “Unlike conventional meat, cultured muscle cells may be safer, without any adjacent digestive organs, On the other hand, with this high level of cell multiplication, some dysregulation is likely as happens in cancer cells. Likewise, the control of its nutritional composition is still unclear, especially for micronutrients and iron.”

This shows some of the drawbacks attached to this meat production technique. There are also some regulations against the hormones that are used in the artificial production of meat in the EU.

MeaTech is aware that these products will not be able to make to the market soon, but they do hope to continue their study. They are, however, confident that they will make it to the market in the next five to six years.

In conclusion, the cell-based fake meats might have a long way to go, but we do have companies like NovaMeat providing plant-based alternatives. Eventually, the world will have to shift from conventional meat sources and to make sure that suitable options are there when we need them, we must invest in these companies today.

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